2017-06-21 14:37:24 UTC
last summer Richard Fateman and I wrote an introduction to simplification to be incorporated into the manual. It can be
viewed at <https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/%7Efateman/papers/intro5.txt>
https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~fateman/papers/intro5.txt. The current manual contains no introduction at all to
chapter 9, Simplification. Simplification, however, is a central part of the CAS Maxima system. Thus, its understanding
gives valuable insight into the overall CAS system. The leading goal in writing this introduction was to make the reader
curious and interested not only in what Maxima can do by itself, but in the numerous ways how it can be controlled,
tailored, enhanced by the user as his tool.
The idea to write such an introduction came from reading the German Maxima version 5.29 (the last one that has been
written), dating back to 2011 and translated at that time by Dieter Kaiser. This translation contains numerous chapter
introductions that do not appear in the English original.
Richard had written a very thorough paper on Maxima's simplifier back in 1979. This paper in my opinion and to my
knowledge is the best way to get an idea of how Maxima works at the programming level. Understanding simplification and
the corresponding part of the Maxima system, the simplifier, can thus be regarded as a means to take a look into
Maxima's way of operation in general. This paper was presented at a Maxima user's conference, it is theory directed to
users. Our introduction to simplification makes reference to this paper, which can be viewed as a natural continuation
of this introduction for the reader more interested in the subject. Although the information of this paper goes beyond
what is normally contained in a User's Manual, my belief is that it should be incorporated in the official Maxima
From the discussion we had on the list about the proposed text last summer, I got the impression that there was a
consensus to go ahead with this. In the meantime I made some experiences with building the documentation and I would
feel confident to be able to do the texinfo formatting myself. But before starting I would like to be reassured that the
project is agreed and the whole work will not be in vain.
My proposal therefore is to include the introduction itself at the beginning of Simplification.texi and to keep the
paper as a separate file. For this I see two possibilities: (1) Include the file in texi format as part of the manual.
(2) Include the file in the doc directory of the repository, in the tarball and in the installer version of Maxima, but
leave it in plain text format to be read with any text editor. The latter way would not include it in the online help,
the html or the pdf version of the manual itself, but it would make it accessible easily and offline to any Maxima user,
in the same way a readme file is.